King Charles – the monarch the climate needs?

As Charles takes the throne, will his strong campaigning for climate action remain a key part of his reign?

Net Hero Podcast

Following the tragic passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Charles III is now King, after a remarkable 70-year reign by his mother.

The new King has been a campaigner for climate change for many years – and there are hopes that this new era could be a positive one, as far as the health of the planet is concerned.

Previously, His Majesty has been involved in key moments and events surrounding climate change, including COP26 last year.

During the Glasgow climate summit last November, the King explained that the world requires a “war-like footing” to mitigate global warming – and that climate change poses more of an existential threat than COVID-19.

An avid supporter of climate mitigation, he stated at the time: “We have to reduce emissions urgently and take action to tackle the carbon already in the atmosphere, including from coal-fired power stations. Putting a value on carbon, thus making carbon capture solutions more economical is therefore absolutely critical.”

In understanding how the reign of the new King could look from an environmental perspective, cooperation with the rest of the world seems paramount, with that speech concluding “my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required.”

Aside from COP26, the monarch has also been considered controversial with his open support for climate campaigners such as Extinction Rebellion, claiming, “I totally understand the frustration. The point is people should really notice how despairing so many young are.”

On his own carbon footprint, the King has in the past converted his 51-year-old Aston Martin sports car to run on cheese and wine, rather than petrol.

Last October, when questioned whether he thought the government were doing enough to battle climate change, he simply stated: “I couldn’t possibly comment.”

However, his disappointment with the UK’s stance on the environment has been widely reported – and there is an expectancy for him to apply more pressure on government for the issue than any previous monarch.

This remains to be seen, as the Royal Family is normally considered to withhold political opinions and stay impartial, as Queen Elizabeth did throughout her seven-decade reign.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair stated on this: “I have no idea what her actual politics [are] and I was prime minister for 10 years.”

If His Majesty continues to bang the drum for climate change it would represent a stark contrast to the role of the sovereign that the British public has known for the last three generations.

His outspoken nature was allegedly of concern to the Queen herself, according to royal biographer Catharine Meyer, who stated she feels “he puts his more cerebral passions – his activism – before his royal job. They are a long way from being persuaded of Charles’s evolving view: that campaigning and kingship can be synthesised.”

When questioned whether the King would end his campaigning once he sat in the throne, he stated: “No, it won’t. I’m not that stupid.”

How Charles decides to reign is yet to be seen – but it appears as though dropping his outspoken nature and opinions on key areas of discussion won’t be lost.